We are beyond thrilled that a Waits-Mast wine is being served at the White House tonight during a state dinner in honor of Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. The 2012 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir from Deer Meadows Vineyard in Anderson Valley will be paired with the main course of American Wagyu Beef with Marrow Crust, Roasted Yam, Wilted Kale and Heirloom Carrots.
In an interesting coincidence, Singapore is the only country besides the United States where our wines are available in restaurants, as several Waits-Mast Pinot Noir wines (including the 2012 from Deer Meadows Vineyard that is being served at the White House) are at restaurants that are part of the Marina Bay Sands group, including Spago by Wolfgang Puck in Singapore.
As has been the case since the 1970s, all of the wines served at state dinners are American. We are in fine company at the 13th state dinner during the Obama administration, with Margerum (2014 Sauvignon Blanc, Sybarite) and Wolffer Estate (2012 Sparkling Rose, Noblesse Oblige) wines also on the menu with Waits-Mast.
Since most of us won’t be in attendance tonight, it was exciting to see press from the White House’s preview event on Friday, including this video from C-Span, which walks through the menu, as well as the flowers and decor.
It’s been interesting for us to learn more about the history of White House state dinners and about the long-time tradition of serving American wines at White House functions. A New York Times article from back in 1986 talked about the Reagan administration’s focus on American wines, mentioning that, “…the policy of serving California wines in the White House predates Mr. Reagan’s tenure. Since the Kennedy years Presidents have generally refrained from serving French wines at official occasions.”
Additionally, that same piece points out that, “In the Carter years an effort was made to serve, at one time or another, wine from every wine-producing state. ‘We primarily served California wines and a New York champagne at state dinners,’ said Gretchen Poston, who oversaw entertaining in the Carter White House. ‘But at a reception for the State of New Hampshire, for example, we served a New Hampshire wine.'”
Today, every state produces wine and it’s been nice to see that recent dinners have sourced wines from a variety of regions. At tonight’s dinner, the wines served will hail from California and New York. Back in May, the Nordic state dinner featured wines from California (Grgich Hills), Oregon (Trisaetum) and Virginia (RDV) and the state dinner for Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau in March included an ice wine from Michigan (2013 Chateau Chantal) as well as California wines from Pence and Cliff Lede.
Back in 2012, the White House’s wine guru Daniel Shanks told Wine Spectator that he had served wines from 19 or 20 states during his tenure thus far, including bottles from Pennsylvania, North Carolina and New Mexico. The White House doesn’t keep a large stash of wines on-hand (in fact, it has a very small wine cellar) and wines for State Dinners need to be easy drinkers, as it’s a quick affair with not much time for the wines to open up in the glass.
We can’t wait to hear the recap of tonight’s dinner and are honored to be included.